Often, a married couple will be able to afford long-term care insurance for only one spouse. Looking at statistics alone, the wife should purchase the policy. In our society women tend to live longer than men and require more care than men. The result is that women are much more likely than men to end up in a nursing home for a long period of time.
It is important to know that long-term care insurers are beginning to charge higher premiums than men. In addition, Medicaid rules provide some protection for the spouse of a nursing home resident. For these reasons, the best bet for couples who can afford the premiums for one policy only is to purchase it for the wife. Couples should bear in mind that this is playing the odds and is not a sure thing.
On the other hand, some companies offer incentives for both spouses to purchase coverage. The incentive may be either a premium discount or allowing both spouses to share the same coverage. With a “shared care” policy, the couple buys a pool of benefits that they can split between them. For example, if you buy a five-year policy, you will have a total of 10 years between you and your spouse. If your spouse uses two years of the policy, you will have eight years. A shared care policy may cost more than separate policies with the same benefit period, but it will allow you to buy a shorter policy knowing that you have a pool of benefits.